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Heartbreak and hope inspire waiting families

August 7, 2018 12:34 am

If the rhetoric between the United States and North Korea increases in hostility, the local survivors of servicemen listed as missing in action during the Korean War might have to wait for a chance at closure if the Asian dictatorship reneges on its commitment to return the soldiers’ remains.

Arthur Doss, of Columbiaville, anxiously awaited word on the fate of his brother William Henry Doss Jr., whose remains, Arthur hoped, would be among those believed to be of 55 U.S. servicemen. The remains were flown from North Korea to Seoul, South Korea, on July 27 aboard an Air Force C-17 Globemaster cargo plane.

Unfortunately, the outcome for the Doss family brought heartbreak. A sample of DNA supplied by Arthur Doss did not match any of the remains. Arthur’s DNA sample has been filed with the U.S. government and will be tested against remains flown stateside in the future. He remains optimistic.

The odds favor disappointment. North Korea has returned 450 sets of remains but just 40 percent have been identified. Still, holding North Korea accountable, which means trusting the country’s irrational leaders, is the right thing to do. It’s an opportunity for families of missing soldiers to contribute DNA that can help make positive identifications.

Just as patience was essential when Vietnam opened its borders to allow the remains of U.S. soldiers to come home, forbearance is required with North Korea. Veterans services agencies took point in prodding North Korea into returning the remains of our missing soldiers to American soil. Those remains are useless to North Korea except perhaps as a cruel bargaining chip with the U.S. government. Holding on to the remains is pointless. Sending them home means everything to families searching for their loved ones, families who wait, patiently.